The 4th of July. Barbecue. Lawn games. Fireworks. Food! And, let’s not forget. . . BEER! These are a few things that come to mind when you mention the July 4th holiday, and these were a few things that were most certainly on my mind. What might not typically come to mind when one things of July 4th is an eight-mile tempo run. But, that was precisely what was first on deck for my holiday agenda.
I had hoped to get my run out of the way first thing in the morning, but I felt mixed emotions when my alarm went off at 6:15 a.m. - I knew I’d be happy to have my speed work done and out of the way so that I could enjoy the rest of the day, but I did NOT want to get out of bed. And, so, I peeled myself from my sheets, got ready, and swore Dakin out in my head the entire drive to the South High School parking lot.
Had I only had to run that morning, I would have been fine. I had to do speed work, though, which pretty much always takes at least a little self-coaxing. And, I remembered how I did with this exact same speed workout this exact time in the exact same training plan last year. I knew what I could do then and wouldn’t be able to help but compare to what I can – or can’t – do now.
I had a good speed workout at Mt. Falcon Park on Tuesday, but I had also had a knee injury. This would be a true test of exactly where I stand in terms of my training. No pressure!
Lucky us, Wash Park delivered – There was a 5K scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. The excitement of race day – hearing the announcer and the music booming from oversized speakers and seeing a flurry of racers flock from the parking lot toward the starting line, some in matching tutus or t-shirts, some already donning race bibs, others asking the location of the on-site check in to get theirs – were motivation.
After a nice, easy mile warm up, there was only one thing left to do – haul arse for 8 more. Here goes!
The first two miles went by pretty quickly, and I was happy with my speed. This is good to start, but I can’t keep this up.
Three miles, then four. Still a good speed. OK, not too bad. Even if I can’t keep this up, I’ve come half way. Seeing the racers pass along the east side of the park trail between Smith and Grasmere Lakes only helped. They likely didn’t even notice me pass, but they were my own personal cheerleaders in my head.
Five felt so good, I ran it 13 seconds faster than four. Damn! Didn’t see that coming. About this time, some of the faster racers had finished the race. Ooh, he’s HOT! Didn’t see him coming either. Six. Only two more at this pace. Maybe I can do this!
Then, seven hit, and it brought a wall with it. Ooh, ouch. Just stick this one out, then you can slow down on the last one. Ran hard on Tuesday. Seven is good for today.
Much to my surprise, seven was right on target with the previous six.
Then came eight. One more. I got this! Twelve seconds faster than seven. DONE!
I finished at just a hair or two faster a pace per mile compared to this same workout last year. As if that weren’t an awesome enough start to what was sure to be an awesome 4th of July, the hot guy crossed my path as he left the race. I felt so good, I thought I’d seize the moment and be a bit bold.
“How’d you do?” I asked. “Good.” Tee hee! OK, OK. So maybe my definition of ‘bold’ differs from others. Truth be told, I think of conversation starters around hot guys all of the time. I just never actually start the conversation. So, on this particular day, even though I knew that we were running opposite directions and that this single exchange was as far as things would go, I was bold to say anything at all.
And as if a great speed workout and being bold enough to start the most brief of conversations with a chiseled, shirtless lad – Did I mention he was H-O-T hot?! - weren’t enough, Dakin, Tarino, and I had (1) beer and (2) a few games of beersbee waiting:
And the rest of the day was filled with barbecue. Fireworks. Food! And, let’s not forget. . . BEER! And a 45-minute nap. That was precisely what was first on deck for the rest of my holiday agenda.
Melissa Mincic, Ph.D., a long-time road and trail runner, conducts child development research and works to influence child development policy at the University of Denver. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @nerdinrunshoes.